Jalen. Patrick. Joe. Tom. Aaron. It’s where the NFL reporters and recorders and mics were the final weeks of the season. Looking for a sound byte. Looking for a word from “the G.O.A.T.s.”:
- “Will Tom Brady retire again?” (Yes)
- “Will Aaron Rodgers leave the Packers for another team?” (not likely)
- “How did Patrick Mahomes do it on a bummed ankle? Will he be well for the big game?” (Yes?)
- “How good is Jalen Hurts going to be?” (Good enough to win?)
- “Will Joe Burrow be the one to help the Bengals finally get a ring?” (Not likely)
These are the NFL quarterbacks who got all the attention. They got the most clicks. They got the focus. They get viewers by the millions to tune into Sportscenter. They are the ones who cause football fans jaws to drop.
But it’s not where I live.
Me? I’d like an hour or so with three other quarterbacks: Stetson. Brock. Josh.
Stetson Bennett had his name plastered all over sports stations recently after being arrested for public intoxication. Yep. The 25-year-old star quarterback (who had just celebrated his second national championship with the Georgia Bulldogs less than three weeks earlier) was beating on doors in a Texas neighborhood in an apparent drunken stupor at 7 AM on a Sunday morning. I would love to sit down with him a month from now and talk about real life.
Brock Purdy came into the NFL season with the label “Mr. Irrelevant.” It’s what you’re called if you are the final and last pick in the NFL Draft. Mr. Purdy was selected after 261 other players were deemed better than him. Irrelevant indeed. The least likely to succeed. But due to injury, Mr. Irrelevant was tapped by the 49ers to play. And play he did. Purdy led San Francisco to seven wins in a row. His team was set to play the Philadelphia Eagles for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. A Cinderella story was brewing. The story ended before the good part, however. Early in the first quarter, Purdy got hurt. His injury led to a surgery on Monday that will cost him six months of any football action. Back to Mr. Irrelevant. I sure would enjoy an hour with him to talk about life.
If “Mr. Irrelevant” is a demeaning label, can you imagine being his backup? Yeah. If you’re tracking, somebody had to go in for Purdy after he got hurt in Sunday’s game with the Eagles. Who goes in when “Mr. Irrelevant” is injured? Who is more irrelevant that the one who carries the name?
Mr. Really-Irrelevant’s name is Josh Johnson. The guy the 49er’s tasked with going in for the injured Purdy. Maybe this will be a Cinderella story? The backup for Mr. Irrelevant going in for an opportunity to lead his team to the Super Bowl? Nope. He lasted until the beginning of the second half. Johnson suffered a concussion and had to leave the game. San Francisco closed out the game by having Purdy hand the ball off to running backs because he was too injured to make a throw. They lost 31-7. I would love an hour or so with Josh Johnson. What’s it like to be the backup QB to the infamous “Mr. Irrelevant”?
Would it be nice to meet and chat with the others? Sure. But that’s not real life. That’s not where I, nor most of the world, lives. I tend to act more like Stetson. Dumb. I tend to be like Brock Purdy. I will have a few good weeks, then boom. I get knocked back into reality. I tend to wonder if what I do matters like the backup QB for Mr. Irrelevant. I get my hopes up for a moment. Then my soul gets concussed.
I don’t mean to sound like a downer, but let’s be real. Don’t you think we would learn more about real life from these guys than the “G.O.A.T.s”? Wouldn’t you love to hear from Stetson Bennet about fame and shame and the fickleness of fans? Wouldn’t you love to ask him about who his real friends are? Wouldn’t it be insightful to ask Brock and Josh where they put their hope? Wouldn’t you glean much about what they have learned about the up and down vapor of acclaim?
I can relate so much better to Stumbling Stetson, Mr. Irrelevant, and Mr. Really Irrelevant. I have a good feeling that in a month or so, these three guys could depart rich and gritty wisdom about how life works. Hope that may not be flashy, but tested and true. It feels like the “Nazareth Principle.” What appears to be weak, small, despised, and rejected is actually full, powerful, love, and life-giving. Nathanael asked Philip: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Jesus was from backwoods Nowhereland, not big city Rome. He had no place to lay his head. Yet he was and is the messiah of God. God chooses the foolishness of the world to shame the wise. What the world declares “Irrelevant” is actually fitting, suitable, and pertinent.
Come to think of it, Jesus most often meets me in my stumbling’s and failures. He tends to be near and present in my “injuries.” That’s not to say he’s not near Jalen or Tom or Joe or Aaron or Patrick. But when you’re at the top, you tend to not need a real Savior for real life. Yeah. I think I’d like to spend an hour or so with Stetson and Brock and Josh. That’s where I live. And it’s where Jesus lives, too.